Twenty-five years ago today, my husband Jay and I said our "I dos."
We have a lot of great stories from our wedding day. But the one we come back to time and again — the one I've told you before and am about to tell you again, Reader-friend — is about how I ended up on the back of some guy's Harley, my wedding dress hiked up past my knees.
The story starts with Albi — Jay's best friend and our best man. You would've loved this guy. Everyone loved Albi. He was fiercely loyal and deep-down kind and the type of fun that everyone wishes they could be. Also, he would talk to anyone.
For whatever reason, we found ourselves with an hour to kill between our wedding and our reception. So we gathered family and friends and hit a couple of bars.
We stopped at The Lantern first, where a few people got pictures of themselves with the girl in the wedding dress. Then we headed downtown to The Rusty Nail.
The Rusty Nail had always scared me when I was a kid — for no reason, really, other than it was called "The Rusty Nail." Also because whenever I snuck a peek inside the front door when walking by, it was dark and eerie looking inside, any time of day. Even to adult me in 1996, The Rusty Nail carried an air of mystery and danger.
Our wedding party stopped by the Nail in our tuxedos and dresses about 4:30 that Saturday afternoon. We walked past the half dozen motorcycles parked outside. Past the pool tables and dart board. Past a handful of empty tables.
At the bar, five or six men in leather sat nursing beers. We'd almost reached them when Albi hollered, "Who wants to give the bride a ride on his Hog?!"
The guy in the middle got to his feet and yelled, "I will!"
Maybe it was the adrenaline of the day. Maybe, in that white beaded dress with its tulle skirt and ridiculous veil, I was feeling young and powerful and invincible. Whatever the reason, I followed my new husband and Albi and our friends and the biker to the street.
And then I let that biker help me onto the back of his Harley, my wedding dress hiked up to my knees, the train of my ridiculous veil wrapped in my arms. I raised one arm in victory and wrapped the other around my leather-vested driver as we revved around the corner. And I rode on the back of that thing all the way to our wedding reception.
My dad was standing in the doorway of the Eagles Club when we pulled up.
"Hey Haugen!" my chauffeur hollered to my dad. Turns out they not only knew each other, but they'd worked together when I was a kid.
Jay arrived right behind me, along with our fancily-dressed friends and family. "Now THAT'S arriving in style!" Albi said.
Twenty-five years ago tonight we danced until the DJ would play no longer. I can still see the Harley driver laughing with my incredulous dad. Albi twirling my grandma around the dance floor. Jay and I ransacking the Eagles' refrigerator for leftovers at midnight.
And then, 25 years and one day ago, we hugged Albi goodbye. He swung me in a circle. He told us we were lucky to have each other. He made us promise to visit him in Alaska.
We promised. But before we could — 24 years ago this December — we lost Albi, unexpectedly.
Scott Albiston's is a void that will never be filled. But, oh, the memories he's left behind. Not the least of which is riding down Third Street in Thief River Falls, Minnesota, with a guy who was giving the bride a ride on his Hog.
Jennifer Koski is associate editor at Rochester Magazine. Her column appears Tuesdays. Send comments to email@example.com.